All entries for May 2005

May 31, 2005

Garden work begins

Follow-up to New project: The garden from Kieran's blog

Last weekend and this weekend we got up the new fencing. We could do the left and right hand sides, but not the back unfortunately.

Then today we started digging up the old rockery on the left hand side which was overgrown with grass. We also started painting the fence (yes it'll be blue…we know what we're doing, honest).

This week we'll hire a turf cutter to get up the 40–50m2 of turf that'll be replaced with borders/patio/gravel. Then hopefully we can start laying some patio next weekend.


New project: The garden

Writing about web page http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/kieranshaw/gallery/garden_make_over/

So, after finishing the bathroom project and the kitchen renovation, it was time for the garden.

We'd always planned on doing this last because we felt it more urgent to do the kitchen, bathroom and general decorating, but now with summer on the way…it's garden time.

Originally it was a really boring piece of grass with an old childs swing in it and falling down fences, but not for long. The new plan is this:

In other words, very little grass and lots of low maintenance patio and gravel borders.

Here are a few before pictures:


May 19, 2005

Eclipse: Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools

Writing about web page http://eclipse.org/birt/

I quite often find myself wanting to get little reports out of different systems (generally blogs, but sometimes SSO or something else) and unless you've already created some nice reporting screens, it comes down to getting out your SQL tool of choice (Tora) and writing some SQL. Once you've got your data, you might then dump it into Excel and make some nice graphs. All in all, it's a pain in the ass, and you might end up doing the same thing over and over again.

If it annoys you enough, you might end up getting around to writing some code to do it for you automatically within your application, but this isn't the most flexible solution.

Whilst upgrading to the latest and very speedy Eclipse M7, I noticed BIRT. BIRT is a set of Eclipse plugins that can do business reporting for you. Having not worked with any other reporting tools before (and I'm sure there are some great and expensive ones), I didn't have much to base any investigations on, but I thought I'd have a look anyway.

Within about half an hour I'd vaguely got my head around it and could produce basic reports. It goes something like this:

  1. Create new empty report (optionally choosing a template)
  2. Set up a datasource pointing to your data
  3. Create a dataset that contains some particular chunks of data you're interested in
  4. Bind the dataset and datasource to an element in your report, such as a table or a pie chart
  5. Do a live preview of your report, showing a nice and always up to date report. Lovely.

That's about as far as I've gone, but it does work. I've not managed to make my reports look all that great so far, but it does look promising. In the ideal world I'd be able to do this and then publish the reports onto an app server and be able to visit it whenever I liked (and I may be able to, I've just not found that out yet), but it'll do for now.


May 16, 2005

IBM corporate blogging

Writing about web page http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2005/05/scoop_can_blogg.php

IBM is about to launch a huge corporate blogging initiative to try and encourage as many of its 130,000 staff to start blogging and evangelising about IBM on the web.

SiliconValleyWatcher reports that:

The goal is to help improve IBM's competitive position in key IT markets by having more of its tech gurus participating in online communities and discussions.

This type of evangelism through blogging can be extremely effective and potentially reduce advertising and marketing costs – a very large line item for most companies. Such savings could offset job cuts – the traditional way IBM and other tech companies reduce their costs.

On this news, Jonathan Schartz has offered their Sun Policy on Public Discourse to IBM as a basis for their T&C's. I wonder if we need a document a bit like that.


May 12, 2005

Remix BBC content – BBC Backstage

Writing about web page http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/

The BBC has released a new API that allows you to access a whole load of BBC content much as you would with Flickr or Technorati. They're hoping to encourage new and innovative uses of BBC content, such as better ways of navigating or aggregating content.

I've not had a good look around yet, but it's nice to see all that great content opening up.


Finished!

Follow-up to Worktops! from Kieran's blog

Well, it's finished!

After 3 weeks (1 week demolishing/ripping and 2 weeks of rebuilding), we've finally finished. Not much more to say really, except that we're really happy with it and it's a vast improvement over the old one!


May 08, 2005

Worktops!

Follow-up to Worktop not on! Arghhh from Kieran's blog

After 6 hours of work, the two carpenters finally fitted the worktops (god I'm glad I didn't try it!). However, they wanted to charge an extra £90 just to cut holes for the hob and sink, so I'm doing that tomorrow instead…and that'll be it!


May 07, 2005

Worktop not on! Arghhh

Follow-up to So close, so close from Kieran's blog

A bit disappointing today. The electrician came and finished off and got all of the power live in the kitchen and garage, but the worktop guy got delayed and will have to come tomorrow now :(

On the plus side, it's all looking really nice now (especially with our remote control lights above the units!)


May 05, 2005

So close, so close

Follow-up to Almost there from Kieran's blog

Good day today, we are just so close now.

We got straight onto doing the floor this morning and had it all laid in about 3 hours. The aluminium plinth and heater followed. After a nice long lunch and shopping break to buy far far too many kitchen goodies and gadgets, I swapped around the kitchen door to open into the hallway which has given more space on the right as you walk in.

We're starting to get really excited now and with a bit of luck will be cooking our first meal at home for 2 weeks on Saturday night! Yay!


May 04, 2005

Almost there

Follow-up to Kitchen progress from Kieran's blog

Kitchen is so close now.

Unfortunately the electrician had his assistant go off sick and couldn't finish today. He did finish off all of the sockets in the kitchen though, but still not changed the consumer unit :(

Dishwasher and sink plumbing is finally all ready and base units are all fixed together and nice and tight. Unsurprisingly we didn't get chance to start the floor. It's amazing just how hard it is to make progress sometimes though. Now that most of the big things are done, the little things that you can't really see are taking up time and making me looked really unproductive.

Big jobs left:

  • Worktops being fitted on Saturday
  • New electrics going live on Saturday
  • Floor going down tomorrow
  • Shopping spree for lots of new kitchen goodies on Friday!!


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